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Processed World Zine

Processed World magazine was founded in 1981 by a small group of dissidents, mostly in their twenties, who were then working in San Francisco's financial district. The magazine's creators found themselves using their only marketable skill after years of university education: “handling information.” In spite of being employed in offices as “temps,” few really thought of themselves as “office workers.” More common was the hopeful assertion that they were photographers, writers, artists, dancers, historians or philosophers.

Beyond these creative ambitions, the choice to work “temp” was also a refusal to join the rush toward business/yuppie professionalism. Instead of 40-70 hour weeks at thankless corporate career climbing, they sought more free time to pursue their creative instincts. Nevertheless, day after day, they found themselves cramming into public transit en route to the ever-expanding Abusement Park of the financial district. Thus, from the start, the project's expressed purpose was twofold: to serve as a contact point and forum for malcontent office workers (and wage-workers in general) and to provide a creative outlet for people whose talents were blocked by what they were doing for money.

The idea for a new magazine struck one of these people, Chris Carlsson, while he was on vacation in the summer of 1980. The sources of this brainstorm were simultaneously a certain socio-economic layer of late twentieth century U.S. society, a group of friends, and certain obscure artistic and political tendencies comprising both post-New Left, post-situationist libertarian radicalism and the dissident cultural movement whose most public expression was punk and new wave music.

Carlsson and partner Caitlin Manning produced a leaflet for National Secretaries Day in April 1980 called “Innervoice #1'' (under the name “Nasty Secretaries Liberation Front” ). The leaflet foreshadowed the PW style. One side was a mock invoice listing the prices paid by an average office worker for her unhappy life. The other was a short analytical essay called “Rebellion Behind The Typewriter.” It referred pointedly to the collective power of information handlers to subvert the circulation of capital.

A year later, in April 1981, the first Processed World hit the streets, Carlsson and Manning having been joined by ex-UCCers Adam Cornford and Christopher Winks (and Steve Stallone as pre-press consultant and printer) in producing that first issue. Finding themselves amid the bulging supply rooms of the modern office, Processed World's friends began collecting resources for the magazine; the first two issues were printed on paper unknowingly “donated” by San Francisco's major banks. A short while later, Gidget Digit and a half dozen others, mostly already friends of the founders, joined the newborn project. The cover art for PW 2 was drawn by a woman who, with her co-worker, wrote in the first wildly enthusiastic letter received by the magazine, and helped realize PW's role as forum. Another new contact, Bonita Thoreson, frustrated with her efforts to write for the proto-union “Working Women” newspaper Downtown Women's News, became an avid participant when she discovered PW's hawkers on a busy downtown street while she was temping. Other participants came in the same way. Processed World's founders saw the importance of community—without horizontal links between people in similar predicaments, no amount of rhetoric, agitation, or sabotage would begin to change conditions. Every Friday writers and editors would head out to the streets to hawk magazines, asking a dollar donation rather than “selling” so as to avoid restrictions on street merchants and to remain protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech provisions. Collective members would don papier-mache costumes. These, like VDT heads-masks labelled “IBM—Intensely Boring Machines” and “Data Slave,” or an enormous detergent box whose familiar red-and-yellow sides read “Bound, Gagged, & TIED to useless work, day in, day out, for the rest of your life?” attracted immediate if often puzzled attention from passersby.
 
Sellers pranced around on busy financial district streets, while yelling “Processed World: The Magazine With A Bad Attitude!” or “Are You Doing the Processing, or Being Processed?” or “If You Hate Your Job Then You'll Love This Magazine!” (In fact, many of PW's slogans evolved as such street cries, spontaneously composed on the spot.) In this way, PW managed to develop and maintain a fairly close rapport with its office workforce constituency. Many fascinating dialogues took place during these Friday lunch hour soirees, and a feedback loop was established whereby readers, writers and editors would discuss articles in person, right on the street. More formal social events were developed in pursuit of a new dissident community. Bi-weekly gatherings at Spec's bar in North Beach began in February 1982; these grew to attract upwards of 40 people every other Wednesday night, until they died out two and a half years later, in late 1984.

From its inception Processed World has sought to end the silence surrounding the underside of the Information Age. The participants' political background and detailed outlook continues to be varied, a non-doctrinaire hybrid of traditions and theories. They have in common being against capital and wage labor, nationalism and governments, and for the free association of human beings in collectively determining and satisfying their needs and desires. In short, the old loathings and the old longings, called communism by millions of workers long before Lenin and his many bureaucratic followers and descendents stole the word.

Like these nameless, original theoreticians of revolution, PW collective members developed their views by bringing their critical faculties to bear on shared experiences in the world of work. The magazine's unusual and irreverent slant on issues such as ecology and women's rights stems from this anchoring in work as the primary means by which the existing society is reproduced, and has inoculated the magazine against fashionable idiocies to the effect that workers can no longer be primary actors in social transformation.

By serving as a forum for “ordinary” workers, Processed World has reinforced the often suppressed truth that social knowledge and subversive wisdom flow from people's daily lives and not from an ideology or group of experts. By building a radical publication around art and humor, PW has reemphasized the importance of immediate enjoyment, both for surviving this insane world, and for reintroducing fun into radical attempts to change it.

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PART OF
Prelinger Library
Additional Collections
Media Type
33
texts
Year
33
(No Date)
Topics & Subjects
4
Tails of Toil, labor, work, fiction, poetry
1
Choking on Ecology, urbanism, bicycling and autos
1
Commons, Fear, Burning Man, messenger wildcat, pointless work
1
Credit, fashion, shopping, art school
1
Elections, Education, Temping, offshoring
1
Essays, Downtime, microelectronics
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Collection
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Creator
33
processed world collective
Language
33
English
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Title
Date Published
Creator
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 2,533
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Speedup, work, economy, Tales of Toil, radical politics
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 2,129
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Commons, Fear, Burning Man, messenger wildcat, pointless work
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 2,085
favorite 1
comment 0
Topic: work, rustbelt, racism, earth summit, looters
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,891
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comment 0
Topic: Futures, language, tales of toil, poetry, fiction
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,797
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comment 0
Topic: biotech, science, genetics,food, tales of toil
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,693
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: The Good Job, New Age, coops, war
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,544
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Exile, immigration, messengers, fiction
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,330
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Elections, Education, Temping, offshoring
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,278
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Topic: education, teaching, schools, bikes, tales of toil
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,270
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comment 0
Topic: Fiction, poetry, art, work
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,228
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Credit, fashion, shopping, art school
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,212
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Tails of Toil, labor, work, fiction, poetry
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,156
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: On vacation, travel, Billboard liberation, fiction, poetry
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,141
favorite 2
comment 0
Topic: Hi-tech, sabotage, computer strikes, VDTs
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,124
favorite 2
comment 0
Topic: office work, computers, automation
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,118
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Parenting, Motherhood, LEGO, Tails of Toil
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,067
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comment 0
Topic: Space, Encryption,Library, South Africa
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,063
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Choking on Ecology, urbanism, bicycling and autos
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,050
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Essays, Downtime, microelectronics
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 1,012
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Phones, Fares, Messengers, office life
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 937
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comment 0
Topic: Sex, work, human relations, gender and humor
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 933
favorite 1
comment 0
Topic: Time, Janitors, fiction, how-to
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 909
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Processed Food, AIDS, Cannery strike, Messengers
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 893
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Transience, temping, offices, Kaiser
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 885
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Tails of Toil, labor, work, fiction, poetry
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 883
favorite 1
comment 0
Topic: office work, temping, automation
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 872
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Tails of Toil, labor, work, fiction, poetry
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 852
favorite 1
comment 0
Topic: work, sex, Toiling Tails
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 843
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comment 0
Topic: Tails of Toil, labor, work, fiction, poetry
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 835
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comment 0
Topic: War and work, militarism, nukes
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 806
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Tales of Termination, Organizing Art Store
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 768
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Sickness and Health, Medical industry, Stress
Processed World Zine
by Processed World Collective
texts
eye 766
favorite 0
comment 0
Topic: Temping, Artificial Intelligence, Graffiti